Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Big 'E" Emergent

The white smoke was seen rising from a cabin in Minnesota. The "leaders" of the emergent conversation gathered in conclave, and chose a "National Director" (click here). But that was only the first of four announcements - and I can hardly wait for the next three!

Now we can start distinguishing being emergent (the original, institutional-less conversation, small "e") and Emergent (the institution born out of the conversation, big "E").

I'm depressed about this.

My first encounter with the emergent conversation was in Chattanooga several years ago when three of us went from our community and were blown away to find others were thinking like us! We never patterned ourselves after some supposed template, didn't start our community based on the conversation, and our worship is not as cool and "out there" as many other places. Our community also includes many people in their 60's even into their 90's - which I suspect is why we don't look exclusively pomo. Our community worship reflects who we are, which is diverse, not some specific group we are trying to evangelize (like gen-Xers).

Our commonality with emergent wasn't in externals, but in theology, the journey, the searching, and the non-institutional/non-leadership community emphasis. It was exciting to find like-minded seekers. I not saying we don't have anything in common any more, but I think our paths are diverging somewhat. That part is disappointing. I hope, like one of the bright spots of the Christian heritage I grew up in, they have their own "Last Will andTestament of the Emergent Leadership Council".


A said...

I share your "depression." And I couldn't have said it better myself. I feel a link possible coming on....

postmodernegro said...


Cheer up brother. Do you currently reside in B'ham? I was born and raised there. I was there just this past weekend. I was looking for emergent communes. Could you give me some heads up on that. I will be down that way early July.

Greg Newton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg Newton said...


Yes I'm in Birmingham - and here are some places to check out:

Fellowship of the Valley (
Red Mountain Church
Disciples' Fellowship
Crossroads Community Church

There may be others, but these are the ones I know. The first two I know better, third is the group I share life with, and fourth I know only by reputation.

I hope that helps.


Keith Brenton said...

I haven't taken an online quiz yet, so I don't know how "post-modern" I am ... but I tend to share your disappointment.

The prospect of a church body with no head but Christ was just too appealing to hope for, apparently. Even a group seeking to dismiss old forms and structures eventually seems to adopt some of them.

In the meantime ... just because a group or two tries to co-opt the term "emergent" doesn't mean they own the concept or fully represent its potential. (After all, my fellowship has tried for almost 200 years to co-opt the term "church of Christ" - but can't possibly live up to its fullness!)

My interim solution is to try to live a Kingdom life; just try to be as much like Christ as I can within whatever structure or lack thereof. He taught in synagogues and the Temple courts. He also taught on mountains and in valleys; in homes and rented rooms; on boats and while walking past them on the water.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't try that last part just yet!

Randy said...

Hey Friend,

The fact that emergent village has a national director won't mean that we have less of a conversation. I'm here in blog world even with a natinoal director.

In fairness, the leadership team of emergent, along with much help from Laci Scott, has done much of what a national director will be doing.

Neither you nor I can run conferences, help direct conversations, nor keep in contact with supporters when time is limited. A full-time director will be able to give his/her full attention to the emergent conversation.

I would strongly encourage you not to be too depressed about this decision. While it may not be what you nor I might want, it doesn't mean that either the theology or conversations will change significantly.

Send me an e-mail if you are still depressed about this one... we need you in this conversation too.

randy buist